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8 top tips to improve staff training

Training should be thought-provoking, reflective and interactive, writes National Star's Dawn Macey-Norris

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Training should be thought-provoking, reflective and interactive, writes National Star's Dawn Macey-Norris

National Star in Gloucestershire is a specialist FE college which provides full- and part-time residential and day courses to people with disabilities, learning difficulties and challenging behaviours.

It is the first FE college in the country to win a national Princess Royal Training Award from the City & Guilds Group. It won the award for its induction training which includes people from a wide-range of disciplines – from therapists and tutors to care facilitators and catering staff. That diverse range makes training a challenge.

Dawn Macey-Norris, head of continuous professional development at National Star, gives her top tips of how to improve your staff training:

1. Developing expert trainers

Your trainers need to not just "talk the talk", they need to "walk the walk". They should have a good depth of subject knowledge that stretches beyond theories and principles. The importance of working alongside others in the workplace can’t be under estimated in extending a trainer’s organisational knowledge.

2. Create a lasting impression 

Induction should be about inspiring new staff and ensuring they are committed – and hopefully – long-term employees. Generate a welcome that makes an impact. Each person should feel vital and needed to your organisation. And get your senior management team involved. Their attendance gives a powerful message: "I see this induction as important to our organisation, and you are important, thank you for accepting the role." 

Try and develop your first day’s programme that incorporates activities that encourage exploration of your organisation’s culture, vision and mission. Include group discussions where all new staff across all roles gain more clarity on how these fit together within the organisation. 

3. Make it real 

There’s no point delivering training that makes no sense outside the classroom. People need to see where they work, who they work with and what they are going to be doing before undertaking relevant training. Training will then make sense and they can identify how it fits into their role. 

Developing training that meets everyone’s requirements can be challenging, especially if you have mixed roles within the group such as a tutor, administrator and gardener. This is where the trainer’s depth of organisation knowledge becomes your greatest strength with them able to contextualise the subject to meet each role. 

4. Keep training different, thought provoking and fun

Training should be thought-provoking, reflective and interactive with each session being different from the next. Creative ways of delivering training can include a range of methods including; relevant icebreakers, real work-based experiential scenario’s, simulations, quizzes and group discussions where staff share and learn from each other. 

5. Recognising uniqueness

Meeting staff diversity is pivotal in programme development, each session must contain the highest standards of inclusion. Ensure all diversity requirements are passed to your trainers so that sensitive discussions can be carried out to identify resource requirements such as Signers, accessible texts, amendments to delivery, one-to-one training options and suitable venues.

6. Weighing up – what’s working?

Feedback should be continually gathered both verbally and through formal methods. At the start of each session there is great value in trainers gaining verbal feedback on how things are going. This is a good temperature check and allows for adjustments to be quickly made.

Learners bore easily with the same old evaluations so keep them on their toes and use a range of different and innovative methods to capture their understanding. 

7. Quality auditing – what next

Quality auditing in the workplace is most often a natural process in education and residential settings but how well is it embedded into other roles? Extending this to all roles will confirm staff's growth has been effectively managed, helps them to recognise achievement and support in their future career objectives. It also sends out a message that all staff matter.

8. Continuous staff development

Induction training shouldn’t be something that is a one-off the first week you start work and then it’s forgotten. If you get it right staff will have enjoyed their learning experience, they will recognise your learning ethos and they will be receptive to future development opportunities.

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